Flying Off About Traveling Stress

I was rude, and I regret it.

It had been building for a while. We were on a trip that involved many stops. Naturally, a key flight was delayed several times, which caused us to miss a connecting flight, which forced us to fly to a different city and then drive to where we wanted to be.

On one of the legs we had a couple of flight attendants who loudly complained to each other about some passengers. OK, they were pushing a heavy cart down the aisle and the passengers in question were getting in the way. I was sympathetic to them at first, but that was wiped away when they began their gripe fest – “Don’t these people see us coming?” “They never listen.” – loudly, and in the middle of the aisle where we all could hear them. Pretty unprofessional, I thought.

On our way home, after another interminable wait and just as I was boarding (finally!) for the last leg of our trip, I saw a really old woman who could barely walk try to ask a desk attendant a question. Apparently her flight had been delayed and the gate had changed. The guy told her in a very loud voice, “I can’t help you now because I have to take care of something else first. Your information is on the screen.” He pointed at the screen, which was several gates away. The old, old lady leaned on her cane and crept very slowly in the direction of the screen.

That’s when I got to the front of the line. The ticket agent peered at my boarding pass and said, “You have to wait. We didn’t call your zone.”

I pointed to my husband who was already walking down the jetway to the plane. “But I’m with him. We’re in the same section.”

Nope. Apparently, hubby’s ticket was stamped with an upgrade and mine was not. I was Zone 1. She kept me to the side, handing my ticket to the other agent, who looked and said, “Yep, you’re Zone 1. Stand to the side, please.”

I was embarrassed. I felt people behind me muttering. I imagined they were calling me a cheat and a troublemaker. I personally hate when people cut in line, and here I was, cutting in line. I was mortified.

Then they let two more passengers pass – and called for Zone 1.

OK, seriously? All that so they could let two people pass in front of me? That ticked me off.

I snatched the boarding pass from the attendant after she stamped it and marched down the jetway. I could hear her calling after me, “Wow, that’s nice. Have a nice day!”

I sat down in my seat and felt like an idiot. I was rude. I had behaved like an entitled jerk. It didn’t matter what had led up to it, there was no excuse for throwing a tantrum like a spoiled kid.

What did this teach me?

One, that I’m still not the person I want to be. I like to think I have outgrown all childish and petty behavior, but apparently not. I’m still ashamed of my actions to that airline employee.

Two, flying nowadays is more stressful for everyone. We all need more patience, kindness and flexibility in dealing with each other. Otherwise, we end up being the kind of people we don’t like: rude and ill-tempered.